This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Garter. An elastic band or other fastening to keep the stocking in place on the leg; more particularly a band passing around the leg either above or below the knee. It is not known when garters were first worn. Necessity in this case must have been the mother of invention, and garters are probably of the same date as the hose which they kept up. The ordinary woman's garter is a cheap and insignificant article, but for those who can afford them the fine qualities range all the way from silk elastic with oxidized silver clasps at $3 per pair, to those with gold buckles adorned with countless designs and monograms up to silk bands ornamented with clasps of diamonds, sapphires, rubies and even pearls, costing from $150 to $500 a pair. Actresses and favorite dancers in large cities especially affect these luxurious fastenings. According to a common English legend the Order of the Garter originated in 1350 in the following manner: At a court ball in London King Edward's mistress, commonly supposed to be the Countess of Salisbury, allowed her garter to drop upon the floor near the king, who, taking it up, observed some of the knights and courtiers to smile as if they thought he had not obtained this favor merely by accident, upon which the king called out, "Honisoit qui mal y pense." (Shamed be he who evil thinks of it.) This trifling incident divided the king's friends into two factions, finally giving rise to the Order of the Garter, the highest order of knighthood in Great Britain, consisting of a perpetual organization of the reigning king or queen, the prince of Wales and fifty others of the bluest blood among the royalty.